Cheshire and Chester Council leader Councillor Samantha Dixon explained how growth can be achieved for the borough through improved connectivity at a northern, sub-regional and local level, at the Connected Growth Showcase at Chester Storyhouse on 7 March.
The vision for regional growth was put into context from a Cheshire and Chester perspective. Some of the major local projects and developments were highlighted, showing how partnerships and collaboration are the keys for future change and investment.
Jonathan Spruce, Interim Strategy Director for Transport for the North, introduced the Strategic Transport Plan and explained the opportunities and impact this will have across the region.
Ken Skates AM, Welsh Government Minister for Economy and Transport, addressed West and Wales cross border working, identifying Chester as a gateway to North Wales and the benefits to jobs.
Lisa Harris, Director Place Strategy at Cheshire West and Chester Council, discussed transport and the Council’s growth programmes.
Peter Carstensen, Chester Growth Partnership Chair, talked about how the private and public sectors are driving investment, and presented the new interactive dashboard.
Muse Developments, which developed Chester’s One City Place, closed the event by looking at the current and future development plans around Chester Station.
The new interactive Chester Dashboard is an online resource bringing together 16 city and regional strategies into one place. These include Chester One City Plan 2012-2027, Cheshire West and Chester Local Plan, Chester Transport Strategy, Growth Track, Constellation Partnership HS2 Growth Strategy 360 Prospectus, and Cheshire and Warrington Growth Prospectus.
Councillor Samantha Dixon, Leader Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “Thanks to all of our speakers. Sometimes it’s not easy to take a step back to look at the bigger picture, but this event did just that. Starting with the aspirations and plans for transport across the North West and North Wales, they showed how our own local growth strategies fit into that bigger picture.
“At a Chester level, we are launching the new dashboard that will be a valuable tool, bringing strategies and projects together in one place for the first time. The dashboard presents details about the £779,565,990 investment projects in Chester. It also provides a wealth of information on house building, culture leisure and heritage projects and a snapshot of economic figures.”
Ken Skates, Welsh Government Minister for Economy and Transport, said: “There are strong links between the economy of North Wales and North West England. Each month, over one million cross-border commuter journeys are made, meaning investment in one region can affect economic outcomes on the other.
“Good transport connections and strong working relationships between the regions are vital in creating significant economic and social benefits for passengers and businesses.
“The updated Memorandum of Understanding between Welsh Government and Transport for the North commits to close working on identifying transport investments. The Chester – Broughton Growth Corridor Study is also a good example of a collaborative approach in taking forward an important piece of infrastructure and the establishment of the West and Wales Transport Forum will bring together key transport partners with the aim of securing cross-border transport improvements.
“We will continue to work closely with our cross-border partners to maximise opportunities and make it easier for people to commute between the regions.”
Jonathan Spruce, Interim Strategy Director at Transport for the North, said: “It’s been a momentous few weeks for the North, with the Transport for the North board approving the Strategic Transport Plan and backing the Strategic Outline Business Case for Northern Powerhouse Rail.
“The Investment programme, which accompanies the Strategic Transport Plan, outlines a number of transport interventions that will transform connectivity for the residents and businesses of Cheshire, including the high-speed rail hub at Crewe, passenger and rail capacity enhancements at Chester station and the dualling of the A500 between Crewe and the M6.
“Cheshire is home to a number of world-class industries, including advanced, high-value engineering, energy, and health innovation, and our Strategic Transport Plan will better connect these firms with the rest for the North, and the country. Most importantly, for the people of Cheshire West and Chester, the plan means more choice over where to live and work, access to new and better opportunities, and improved connections to family and friends.
“The Strategic Transport Plan and the Outline Business Case were approved in Chester and it was an honour to be back to talk to local people about our plans and the interventions that will transform connectivity in the region and across the North.”
The interactive Chester Dashboard is available at: http://chester.westcheshiregrowth.co.uk/